Alice in Wonderland (review)

It was the wild and wacky 80s, and so schlock producer Irwin Allen, of Towering Inferno and Poseidon Adventure fame, indulged the brainstorm that struck him, to turn his talents in the next obvious direction: transforming a beloved children’s classic into a celebrity-studded three-hour musical extravaganza! To call this 1985 tchotchke a disaster is tempting, considering the Irwin Allen connection, but that wouldn’t be fair to the many millions of Generation Xers who have fond childhood memories of this two-parter, consisting of Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. But oh dear, the songs, by Steve Allen, are painfully hokey, and much of Lewis Carroll’s wit is lost in the mugging of the cast that is a who’s who of 70s and 80s kitsch: Ernest Borgnine, Sid Caesar, Red Buttons, Carol Channing, Imogene Coca, Sammy Davis Jr., Merv Griffin, Sherman Hemsley, Harvey Korman, Anthony Newley, Donald O’Connor, Telly Savalas, Ringo Starr… the list goes on and on. And they’re all in foam-rubber Wonderland costumes. It’s like being at the world’s (unintentionally) scariest ever tea party… or maybe the funniest. The full-screen presentation is crisp and clear, but the sound remains resolutely mono, and there are no extras on the disc.

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